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Nature provides inspiration for important new adhesive

renewable, but it lacks the unique amino acid with phenolic hydroxyl groups that provide adhesive properties. Li's research group was able to add these amino acids to soy protein, and make it work like a mussel-protein adhesive. Then they began to develop other strong and water-resistant wood adhesives from renewable natural materials using mussel protein as a model. The research work has resulted in 11 papers in journals such as Macromolecular Rapid Communications and the Journal of Adhesion Science and Technology.

The new wood adhesives are made from natural resources such as soy flour and lignin. They may replace the formaldehyde-based wood adhesives currently used to make some wood composite products such as plywood, oriented strand board, particle board, and laminated veneer lumber products - all major components of home construction and many other uses.

One of these patented adhesives is currently cost-competitive with a commonly used urea-formaldehyde resin, researchers say, but does not use formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals. Formaldehyde fumes are associated with some health problems, including eye and throat irritation. The chemical has been shown to be a human carcinogen, and in some circumstances it may be a concern in some residential building products.

The other key advantage of the new adhesives is their superior strength and water resistance.

"The plywood we make with this adhesive can be boiled for several hours and the adhesive holds as strong as ever," Li said. "Regular plywood bonded with urea-formaldehyde resins could never do that."

The first commercial application of the adhesive will be to make decorative hardwood plywood for high-quality interior uses. But the adhesive can also be used in making softwood plywood, particleboard, medium density fiberboard, oriented strand board, and the laminated veneer lumber that is finding increasing use to replace conventional joists and beams in construction.'"/>

Source:Oregon State University


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